Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone and the commercial nature of February 14th may make some people cynical about idealised relationships, but a new study from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business says that idealism could be the key to a happy marriage.
The author of the report, Prof. Dale Griffin says that seeing your partner as “more ideal than they really are”, is the secret of a happy and healthy relationship.
The study suggests that if you view your partner in an extremely positive light, however unrealistic that may be, it’s more likely to trigger greater forgiveness when things get difficult, and a greater tendency to look for positive reasons for your partners behaviour. These conclusions came after research involving 222 couples in their first marriages. They connected “unrealistic idealisation at the time of marriage to changes in satisfaction over the first three years of marriage.”
While normally satisfaction between couples goes down over time the study concluded that seeing your partner as a reflection of their ideals provided some protection against the decline in satisfaction. Griffin further concluded that this connection between idealism and successful marriages isn’t just down to individuals being optimistic about their relationship and that the connection holds for less optimistic individuals as well.
However, the Huffington Post points to some other research which suggests that you may still get divorced even if you think you have found your soul mate. A 2010 US study encouraged people not to rush into marriage, just because they think they have found the ‘one’. It concluded that marriages often work better once the practical economics of a relationship have been worked out and that people who marry for more ‘institutional’ reasons such as parenthood or economics are more likely to succeed than people who marry for purely personal reasons.
Read the whole UBC Sauder School of Business study here.
Photo by Renee Barron via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence